To: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
Islamic Republic of Iran
Dear Mr. President,
I’m writing to you about death, one of your favorite themes. Your adult life has revolved around it. You’re from the Revolutionary Guards, the military organization that was created in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in the 1970s. The then-incipient Revolutionary Guards were trained there by the expert terrorists of al Fatah, Yasser Arafat’s gang of killers (Sunnis, by the way, as you well know). One day, the camp was bombed by the Israelis, and a considerable number of your men were killed. Later on, the graduates entered Iran, and killed members of the shah’s security forces. Today, Revolutionary Guardsmen crush Iranian dissent at home, and they are on the prowl all over the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Buenos Aires, Argentina. So you’ve been around death for 30 years or more. Training for it, training others for it, and participating in it.
You glorify it. You think it’s beautiful. “Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and best death,” you’ve said. After all, art tells you how to live. That is the essence of art. Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity.
#ad#Interestingly, you talk about “independence” and “national security,” rather than the interests of Islam, or the Muslim community, or even the Shiites, your sect. I’ll come back to this odd language shortly.
You’re a veteran of one of the bloodiest wars of recent times, the Iran-Iraq conflict that probably cost your country more than a million dead and maimed. You extol that sacrifice, as any patriotic Persian would; Iran was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s armies, and the Iranian people defended their country, bravely and desperately.
But your praise of Iranian fighters isn’t limited to men shot down on the battlefield in that bloody war; you celebrate cases of what you call — and extol — “martyrdom.” I call it the deliberate, criminal slaughter of many tens of thousands of young children. Some of those kids were only 12 years old. They were sent across the battlefields into Iraqi territory, as human mine-detectors. They walked across the minefields, and got blown up. The Iraqi soldiers were so horrified that they shouted at the children to stop, to go back. But they didn’t; you’d indoctrinated or hypnotized them, and you wanted them to die. Indeed, you were so certain they would be killed, that these little children were provided with plastic keys that were said to open the gates to paradise.
That’s not martyrdom; that’s mass murder of your own people. You indoctrinated those kids and sent them to their doom. And it didn’t stop with the war. Afterwards, you sent other children to walk across areas you suspected were mined, and many of them were sacrificed in the same way.
This barbarous campaign, of which you are so proud, and which you acclaim as a work of art, produced some particularly gruesome technical problems: according to one of your leading newspapers, many of those children were vaporized by the land mines, while others were blown to pieces, their body parts scattered over the earth. Your religious leaders insisted that everything be done to keep the bodies intact, and so at a certain point the children were sent to the mine fields wrapped tightly in blankets. Instead of charging bravely to eternity, they rolled across the ground. That way, their cadavers were more likely to hold together, and their families could be given the remains, wrapped in a bloody blanket, for burial.
Sending fighters into battles in which their leaders know many, or even most of them, are going to die is hardly new. The Russians did it in the First World War, for example, when the second ranks were not armed, but were told that there would be plenty of weapons available; they could just pry them from the hands of their dead comrades. But your massacre of the innocents is something uniquely dreadful.
Ironically, the notion that Muslims love death, thereby gaining an advantage against their life-loving adversaries, was first directed against your very own country, Iran itself, during the famous battle at Qadisiyya in 636, between the Muslim armies of Caliph Abu Bakr and the Persians. The Caliph sent a message to the Persians, calling upon them to conver t to Islam or pay onerous taxes and accept Muslim rule. Otherwise, he said, “you should know that I have come to you with an army of men that love death, as you love life.” (The Muslims won the battle, which marked the end of the Sassanid dynasty in Persia).
Such language during war is, so to speak, normal, but your deliberate mass sacrifice of your young, along with your ode to martyrdom, is different. It’s what the great Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno called “necrophilous” thinking, a pathological love of death.
Unamuno used that word in a face-to-face confrontation at the University of Salamanca, where he was the rector, with the famous Spanish general Millan Astray. The Spanish Civil War had just begun, and the general was celebrated in nationalistic circles for his motto, viva la muerte, Long Live Death. The general was a cripple, and Unamuno noted that the great Spanish writer, Cervantes, was also handicapped, and then he continued, “it pains me to think that General Milan Astray should dictate the pattern of mass psychology. A cripple who lacks the spiritual greatness of a Cervantes is wont to seek ominous relief in causing mutilation around him.” Unamuno denounced “Long Live Death” as a “necrophilous and senseless cry.”
Today, you are in the same position as General Milan Astray. Although you have not been wounded, your celebration of death is as necrophilous as the general’s. This is not a philosophical matter, despite your efforts to elevate it to the stature of aesthetics. It’s a disease, with well-known symptoms and consequences. People like you, who are fascinated by death are terribly destructive, of others and of themselves. You’re a textbook case.
Necrophilia is defined as:
The passionate attraction to all that is dead, decayed, putrid, sickly; it is the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to destroy for the sake of destruction… It is the passion to tear apart living structures.
That is the language you use, especially about the Jews, the Israelis, and the Americans. It’s all about the rot of death, and the stink of death, as when you said that Israel is a “rotten and stinking corpse” that is destined to disappear, and you went on to proclaim that Israel “has reached the end like a dead rat.”
As I say, you’re a textbook case of mental illness. And we’re very well acquainted with the political consequences of your diseased mind. It’s all about fascism.
#ad#Fascists like you have always loved death. Hitler’s SS had a death skull on their insignia, and celebrated a brave death. As you say you do. And, like Hitler, you don’t just love death because of its aesthetics. You think that martyrs — suicide bombers, of whom you claim to have recruited some forty thousand, for example — have geopolitical significance. You say that “all independent nations are indebted to martyrs,” and your website modestly claims that the oppressed peoples of the world all love Iran’s leaders, particularly you and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (That doesn’t sound right at all, by the way. Have you polled the Burmese and the Chinese, or the North Koreans? I haven’t heard them singing your praises, frankly).
But there’s a big difference between you and the Nazi leaders. You, and your fellow Iranian leaders, don’t actually fight. With the exception of your Revolutionary Guards forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, very few Iranians put themselves on the line (and even your foreign legions rarely fight, and when they are captured, they often give us the information we need to defeat you, as we have in Iraq and soon will in Afghanistan). You lure others to die, but you’re not willing to put your own lives on the line. You talk a lot about the “culture of martyrdom,” but in practice it’s not Iranians who blow themselves up. I don’t know of a single case of an Iranian suicide bomber in Iraq or Afghanistan. They’re all Arabs: Saudis, north Africans, and the odd Syrian tossed in for ethnic balance. But not Iranians. All of which tells me that your big talk about martyrdom is phony. Martyrdom is for others — in the current campaign, others you and most other Iranians despise, like the Arabs — but you’re not about to blow yourself up, or send your comrades to blow yourselves up.
You’ve won the status of the world’s leading antisemite, which is not easy, and you’ve lied about it a lot. Indeed, you have denied — on CBS television — hating any religion, which is manifestly false; you’ve been seen on Iranian TV spouting venom against all non-Muslims, with special contempt for Christians and Jews. But, when you are talking to the infidels, you pretend to be tolerant. For a guy who has distinctly medieval convictions — your very literal belief in the imminent return of the Shiite messiah, your beloved Twelfth Imam, and the onset of the End of Days, for example — you’ve certainly mastered some of the nuances of contemporary Western politics. You never chant “death to the Jews!” It’s always “death to Israel!” Or “death to the Zionists!” Or “death to America!”
That’s entirely in keeping with the “new” antisemitism. It’s always about Zionists, or the Israel lobby, or the lackeys of Sharon. But every now and then you just can’t resist, and out it comes. Instead of remembering to say that you respect all monotheistic religions, you tell your followers “We are in the process of a historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.” Zionists haven’t been around that long. And your followers aren’t nearly as careful with their language as you are. The Iranian creation, Hezbollah, told us in 1992 that they were engaged in “ an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.” And ten years later, the leader of the “Party of God,” Lebanese Sheikh Nasrallah, was quoted by the Lebanon Daily Star, encouraging all the Jews to move to Israel, the better to annihilate them in one blow. “If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
Your senior adviser, Mohammad Ali Ramin (said to be the man behind your infamous Holocaust Denial Conference), says the Jews have been accused of spreading deadly plagues throughout history because “they are very filthy people.” And, almost in the same breath, he added, “So long as Israel exists in the region there will never be peace and security in the Middle East…so the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel.”
That you are engaged in a global campaign to destroy the Jews is evident from your actions as well as your words; Hezbollah and the Iranian regime were joint partners in the bombing of the Jewish Social Center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
There’s obviously a big difference for you between dead Muslims and dead Jews; it’s only your dead that count; ours don’t count as martyrs. This is the point of your infamous diatribes against the very idea of the Holocaust. “ (The Zionists and their agents) have concocted a myth of deprivation and innocence for the Jews of Europe,” you’ve said. “They use this pretext of the innocence of Jews and the suffering of some Jews during the Second World War…” We know all about that line, “the pretext of innocence.” It’s been the trademark of antisemites for centuries.
#ad#In short, you’re not what you say you are. You’re a poseur, a fraud, a vulgar chauvinist pretending to be an inspired religious leader. You’ve proclaimed Iran “the most powerful and independent country in the world.” The implication of that silly claim is that the weaker and dependent nations — that is, everyone else in the world — must bend to your will. You’ve said this more than once and in somewhat different ways, as when you said that the Iranian people must prepare themselves to rule the world.
Those statements are very surprising, coming from one of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Those words put you in direct conflict with the founder, Ayatollah Rohallah Khomeini. On the Air France plane carrying him to Tehran, Khomeini famously proclaimed that nationalism was paganism, that he didn’t give a hoot about Iran, and that his revolution was for all of Islam, not for one country. Indeed, if Iran perished in order to advance the global triumph of Islam, it would be fine with him.
So what’s up with your pagan statement about the glory of Iran? You constantly claim to be the heir to Khomeini, a true believer in the imminent return of the 12th Imam, but as a matter of fact you embrace an heretical doctrine. The 12th Imam is supposed to bring about the global triumph of the Muslim peoples, as Khomeini said. Not Iran. And another thing: you often talk as if global chaos and conflagration were welcome, because it would hasten the Mahdi’s arrival. But Khomeini did not say that, nor did he act as if he believed it. Quite the contrary, in fact: When an Iranian passenger plane was accidentally shot down by an American missile, he didn’t welcome it at all; he surrendered. That American missile ended the Iran-Iraq war.
You’d do well to study the history of your own country, which so far as I know is the only one to have had a Jewish queen — Esther, of the Purim story. The Book of Esther recounts the life and death of one of your direct predecessors, the evil politician Haman, who convinced his ruler, Ahasverous, to order the massacre of the Jews of the Persian Empire. The Book of Esther nicely summarizes what happens to those, like you, who attempt to destroy the Jewish people. Haman and his sons were hanged; then, a few days later, in the fighting he had authorized, some 75,000 Persians were killed by their would-be Jewish victims, and Esther reigned.
It’s your destiny, too.
I don’t know exactly how you will be destroyed. There are many possible scenarios, most of which you’ve undoubtedly contemplated in your reflections on the beauty of death. My own favorite is to turn your own hate upon yourself and your regime, and fulfill your dream of a world without Jews. You don’t want to be contaminated by us, right? Very well, then we’ll seal you off from everyone and everything Jewish. The ultimate embargo: You’ll have no Jewish doctors or lawyers, no access to Jewish hospitals, you’ll be isolated from music or art by Jews, and everything invented by Jews. It’s quite a long list, including chemotherapy, the cure for syphilis, the polio vaccine, blue jeans, oral contraceptives, azathioprine (the first immuno suppressant used in organ transplants), septicemia (treatment for bacterial infections), the Barbie doll, hand-held video cameras, various antibiotics including streptomycin and penicillin, the push-up bra, and, of course, most everything nuclear (sorry about that) including the fission reactor (as you must know, the American atomic bomb began with a letter to President Roosevelt from two Jewish physicists, and the Manhattan Project involved numerous others).
Poetic justice, don’t you think? You’ll be throttled by your own bile.
— Michael Ledeen is Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.